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Showing posts from July, 2017

Live today, not tomorrow

Today is a day that will not come again - you have but one chance to live it, so live it well. A lot of people focus so much on living today to make a "good tomorrow" that they miss what is going on around them right here and now. One day, Ferris Bueller took a day off from school - ditched classes to just live his day to the fullest. A quote from the movie sums up why he did what he did: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." I don't condone ditching class, but the point is made - life comes at us at speeds often exceeding our own ability to keep up and before we know it, we have witnessed opportunity after opportunity to pass us by without any guarantee they will come our way again.

13 Some of you say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to some city. We will stay there a year, do business, and make money.” Listen, think about this: 14 You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Your life is like a fog. You …

Sometimes you win...sometimes you just run

I also saw other things in this life that were not fair. The fastest runner does not always win the race; the strongest soldier does not always win the battle; wise people don’t always get the food; smart people don’t always get the wealth; educated people don’t always get the praise they deserve. When the time comes, bad things can happen to anyone! (Ecclesiastes 9:11 ERV)

It is probably more common than you may think that people want to "win" - they believe life has to be "fair" or "equitable" in some form. While this isn't exactly a "wrong" ideal, it is not founded in reality at all! I am not sure why "sportsmanship" had to be taught with the philosophy of not keeping score or not declaring any one team a winner - such as in a young person's game of T-Ball. Everyone getting a trophy or medallion for "participating" is fine, but in truth, there are always going to be winners and losers in this lifetime. Sometimes we …

Oh, I remember!

It was Douglas MacArthur who reminded us, "You are remembered for the rules you break." It isn't the list of ones we keep that come to mind when others think of us at times, but those we might have not done so good of a job with! We take that one monumental stumble down some wrong path and wouldn't you know, it becomes a thing of infamy we cannot live down! Maybe it is actually us doing the remembering, holding those "broken rules" against ourselves, not willing to let go of their memory or the hold those stumbles seem to have on us. Either way, we find ourselves dealing with continual embarrassment, coupled with the desire to just have it forgotten!

Help me understand your instructions, and I will think about your wonderful teachings. I am sad and tired. Say the word, and make me strong again. Don’t let me live a lie. Guide me with your teachings. I have chosen to be loyal to you. I respect your laws. I follow your rules closely, Lord. Don’t let me be put t…

Take the time

There is a right time for everything, and everything on earth will happen at the right time. There is a time to be bornand a time to die. There is a time to cryand a time to laugh. There is a time to be sadand a time to dance with joy. There is a time to hug someoneand a time to stop holding so tightly. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 4-5 ERV)

Today is a bitter-sweet day for I will attend the funeral of my best friend's mother. Together we will mourn, and yet, we will celebrate a life well-lived, a woman well-loved. We will embrace each other and hold each other close, languishing just a little longer than usual in that embrace of companionship that connects us in our love and comforts us in our grief. We will cry for there has been a great loss, and yet, we can do nothing more honoring to her life than to hold fast to the memories she created in the hearts of her loved ones, friends, and acquaintenances over her many years on this earth. The greatest challenge for her husband will be to fill…

Fear vs. Dismay

But you, Israel, my servant,Jacob, whom I have chosen,the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth,and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant,I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you;be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:8-10 ERV)

While I recognize our passage is written to the nation of Israel around 600-700 BC, it still has application in our own lives today. The words I'd like us to focus on today are "fear not" and "be not dismayed". For the longest time I thought these both meant the same thing. Sometimes a quick trip to the dictionary lends just a sweet element of revelation you may never have considered! I think we have "overdone" the phrase "fear not" in today's day and age. It has become the bywords of some companies trying to instill the beli…

Your actions say???

Ghandi said, "Action expresses priorities." That being the case, what are your actions revealing about your priorities? Who do they say is "Number One" in your life? What do your actions reveal about your purpose and intent in life - focus, determination, and commitment? Right now I am planning on another fishing trip with my BFF, so I am pretty intent on getting the tackle box and rods all ready, gearing up for what we hope will prove to be a successful week of relaxation and angling. Mind you, it is more than five weeks away yet, but I am getting focused on it anyway! I also want to make some time to take my grand boys out into the great outdoors to do some fishing and just hanging with each other - so I am being purposeful about how to plan that since I need to do it at a time when someone is available to be with mom. I need renewal - so I take occasional periods of respite from care giving. I need to pour into the lives of these young men whatever wisdom they w…

Stay or Go?

"The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn." (David Russell) There is certainly some deep wisdom in those words. I think there are times when we wrestle with allowing a bridge to remain and when it should be "taken out" for good. While some bridges bring us to new places us, allowing us safe passage into areas we haven't been before, others allow us to go back to places we should never return to again!

13 Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me.14 I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven. (Philippians 3:13-14 ERV)
Bridges are designed to support us as we get somewhere. They are prepared with the greatest of care because they are taking us places not so easily discovered or enjoyed without t…

All of God is in Christ - All of Christ is in us

6 You accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, so continue to live following him.7 You must depend on Christ only, drawing life and strength from him. Just as you were taught the truth, continue to grow stronger in your understanding of it. And never stop giving thanks to God. 8 Be sure you are not led away by the teaching of those who have nothing worth saying and only plan to deceive you. That teaching is not from Christ. It is only human tradition and comes from the powers that influence this world.9 I say this because all of Godlives in Christ fully, even in his life on earth.10 And because you belong to Christ you are complete, having everything you need. Christ is ruler over every other power and authority. (Colossians 2:6-10 ERV) I really want to focus on the last two sentences from this passage today, but wanted you to have the context, as well. Paul is concerned that some of the believers at the Colossian church have become duped into believing "good ideas", but ideas that are…

Oh, I have to APPLY it?

21 So get rid of everything evil in your lives—every kind of wrong you do. Be humble and accept God’s teaching that is planted in your hearts. This teaching can save you. 22 Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves.23 Hearing God’s teaching and doing nothing is like looking at your face in the mirror 24 and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you looked.25 But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard. (James 1:21-25 ERV) There are definitely times when I take a gander in the mirror early some mornings when my first inclination is just to turn away, believing there is absolutely no help! Hair askew, blemishes seeming to bud out of nowhere overnight, and eyes heavy with sleep - things don't look all that promising!…

No more white noise

2 Tell me this one thing: How did you receive the Spirit? Did you receive the Spirit by following the law? No, you received the Spirit because you heard the message about Jesus and believed it. 3 You began your life in Christ with the Spirit. Now do you try to complete it by your own power? That is foolish.4 You have experienced many things. Were all those experiences wasted? I hope they were not wasted!5 Does God give you the Spirit because you follow the law? Does God work miracles among you because you follow the law? No, God gives you his Spirit and works miracles among you because you heard the message about Jesus and believed it. (Galatians 3:2-5 ERV)

Do you ever "complicate" things by adding just way too much to the time you take to do something, or by adding so many requirements that must be met before you will do it? I do on occasion and whenever I do, I find myself in a muddle that kind of bogs me down. I don't move at other times simply because I get confused a…

Choose a better diet

From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.  Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (Proverbs 13:2-3 ESV)

"Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble." (Yehuda Berg) The words we use most frequently reveal a lot about who we are, how we are motivated, what gets our jets fueled, and the things that rile us into action. There don't have to be many of them, but those which are selected to be spoken are the ones that reveal so very much about us!

If you have ever heard the old adage of "eating one's words", you might note the scripture says something similarly. The words of our mouth are what we "…

Start...Stop...Start Again

Mark Twain always said the secret of "getting ahead" is to actually "get started". There are a lot of times in life where I want to be "ahead" of where I am, like saving for retirement - as long as I am started on the journey, I am much further ahead than when I first took consideration of the idea! For some of us it is the task of just getting started each and every day that gives us some of the greatest challenges. We have the hardest time even getting out of bed, let alone actually accomplishing anything! I am not a procrastinator, so when there is something that needs to be done, I usually think about it in terms of "that won't take too long" or "it best get done, or I will have worse things to deal with". Have you ever under-estimated the demands of the project at hand, or over-estimated the potential you had to actually complete it? If you are like me, you have started more than one thing which either could not be completed i…

Correct this...

“Lord God, with your great power you made the earth and the sky. There is nothing too hard for you to do." (Jeremiah 32:17ERV) What is your "too hard" point in life? At what "phase" in the development of events or alignment of the issues do you actually say this is just "too hard"? My grandsons have had to learn math, but not the "easy" way we might have learned growing up - for their "method" of teaching math these days is through something they refer to as the "common core". Honestly, this "newer math" is kinda hard! It almost borders on being "too hard" for this old gal to learn! Every now and again I get this pleading call from my daughter, asking me to help him over the phone with his math homework. It is one thing to see it, read through it a couple of times, and then figure out what they are trying to instruct him to do, but over the phone to just "hear it"...that just compounds the &…

Uneven balance

It was the late German theologian Thomas Kempis who reminded us how "seldom" it is that we actually "weighed" another by the same balance we use to weigh ourselves. We often find it easier to stand up for what we believe to be "right" in our own lives, but then overlook what might equally be right in the lives of another simply because we become so hyper-focused on their faults and our merits. As God handed down the Law of Moses, one of the particular things he required was "fair scales". He didn't want the people of Israel to become known as being "unfair" or "unethical" in their dealings with others. Their jars, baskets, and scales were all to be "correct measurements", so there would be no opportunity to take advantage of another. When we use "differing scales", we are taking advantage of others.

Stand up for what you know is right, and judge all people fairly. Protect the rights of the poor and thos…

Generous?

Give freely, and you will profit. Help others, and you will gain more for yourself. (Proverbs 11:25 ERV)
My pastor asked this question this weekend about giving and serving - do we give and serve without caring who gets the credit? It is quite telling to actually take inventory of each action behind our service to see if we are secretly desiring some credit or acknowledgement for what it is we have done. If we are honest, we might not always serve without the intent of getting the "credit we are due". 

As my pastor aptly said, the generosity of Jesus is what actually provides our ability to relate to God - for without that generosity, we'd still have sin between us and the throne of God. There is nothing accomplished within the church that doesn't stem from the first act of generosity. The simplest example of generosity is revealed in how we care for one another.

How do we care for each other? One of the ways we can reveal our sincerity in caring is through the generosi…

Intrinsic or Extrinsic Power?

With God’s power working in us, he can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21ERV) What "power" do you possess - or maybe the best question is what "power" do you exhibit in your life? Back some years ago, the concept of "super-heroes" hit the television and big screen audiences everywhere. The "super-men" and "super-women" of these shows were able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, stop supersonic aircraft with the breath from their mouth, and somehow rescue every damsel in distress. In real life, rarely do we see this type of "power", nor do we this consistent intervention "just in the nick of time" into the situations where harm is about to wreak havoc in the lives of people. In real life, the "power" we rely upon is usually either intrinsic (stemming from within us) or extr…

May you have many such jewels

It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confidence of their help. (Epicurus)
If you have ever read the Proverbs, you will note there are a lot of passages that deal with the friends we keep, ranging from those that remind us to choose them wisely to realizing their strength in times of trouble. I would like to just spend a moment today contemplating just a few of these:

Good people are careful about choosing their friends, but evil people always choose the wrong ones. (12:26 ERV)

Choice of friends is key to both the direction and distance a relationship will travel. If we choose the right friends, they will be on course with where need to be heading, AND they will be with us through the entirety of the journey. We need both - the companionship along the way, but the wisdom and determination to help us make the best choices about the direction we take in life. If we choose wisely, the benefits are astronomical!

Be friends with those who are wise, and you will become w…

Hold on...it is gonna get bumpy

God’s way is perfect. The Lord’s promise always proves to be true. He protects those who trust in him. (Psalm 18:30ERV) There are definitely times when I have to remind myself that God's ways are not always my ways and vice-versa. I can never forget that his ways are "perfect" - while mine are usually a little off-target on occasion! There are times in life when the contradiction between the two are actually what turns me back toward grace and further away from that which would only provide misery or harm in my life! The perfect ways of God aren't always the easiest, but they are the best for us. Sometimes all we can do is "go with it" - keeping on course with his steps and trusting that we will understand where the path of those steps is leading us in the end. In the meantime, we may want to ask a whole bunch of questions and even question the validity of some of those steps, but there are times when we just have to trust and reveal that trust by taking th…